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Indra in the oldest Tamil Book

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My interpretation of this INDUS seal is Indra on Airavata

Indra is the most popular Vedic God. Indra is the most popular Tamil God according to the oldest Tamil book Tolkappiam. Tolkappiar wrote this grammatical treatise around 1[SUP]st[/SUP] century BC. He lists all the four important Vedic Gods INDRA, VARUNA, VISHNU and SKANDA (another form of AGNI) as Gods of four Tamil Lands. Tolkaapiam was launched in the assembly of a Pandya king and Acharya of Athankodu gave the seal of approval according to Panamparanar, disciple of Agastya & Tolkappiar. Acharya of Athankodu was praised as a great scholar in all the four Vedas.

Tolkappiar was not the only one who praised Indra. We see Indra throughout Tamil literature. Sangam Tamil literature mentions his name in several places and the heaven under Indra is mentioned in innumerable places. Pura Nanauru, Tirukkural and Tamil epics did not miss his name.
People who don’t know Tamil or Tamil literature think Tamils had a different culture which is not true. There are some special aspects of Tamil culture and it is same with every nook and corner of the country. Britain, where I live is a small country; exactly the area of one state in India (Andhra Pradesh) and it has got almost similar population of Andhra Pradesh. But there are four cultures English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish. Irish and Scottish are fighting for separate countries. No wonder India which is the seventh largest country in the world, with the second highest population in the world, show different aspects in different parts.

Indra was out and out an Indian god. Throughout Indian literature he is depicted as riding an elephant. Elephant is an Indian animal and tropical animal. But people, who claimed themselves “scholars”, spread all sorts of lies about Indra to confuse and divide Indians.

Tamil are very fond of Indra. Even today they have Indra’s name such as Rajendra, Mahendra, Balendra,Gajendra,Vijayendra etc.

As a matter of fact from the northern most Kashmir to the southernmost Kandy in Sri Lanka, we see Indra’s name everywhere.

Indra Riding Airavata in Laos

Following references from the Tamil books will prove my argument:

Tol.Porul.1 to 5 says
The land of forests desired by Mayon (Vishnu), The land of hills desired by Seyon (Reddish Skanda), the land of sweet waters desired by the King (Indra) and the land of wide sand desired by Varunan. The land divisions are respectively called Mullai, Kurinji, Marutham and Neithal. Indra was the God of cultivated lands and irrigated fields. Indra is always associated with water in the Vedas. He was the one who released water by killing Vritra. Tolkappiar was a genius and he translated Indra as King (Venthan in Tamil). There are innumerable Indras in the Hindu scriptures. But some people falsely attributed all these things to one Indra. Tolkappiar used the common noun king.

Purananuru verse 182
Ilamperu Vazuthi sings about the great qualities of Tamils in Puram verse 182. He says that even if Indra’s Amrita is offered one would not eat alone. This is a clar reflection of Bhagavad Gita verse 3-13. I have already given this in my post Bhagavad Gita in Purananuru in Tamil. So Indra’s Amrita was known to every Tamil.

Puram 241
Tamils and other Hindus believed that soldiers who sacrifice their lives defending the country will go straight to heaven under the rule of Indra. This is also in Bhagavad Giat which I have already explained in my post. Enicheri Mudamosiyar sings about Chieftain’s Ay’s death. Indra is waiting to welcome the hero to his world, says the poet. I have a feeling that Ay’s real name is AYendran or Ajendran. His name Andiran is cognate with Indira in Sanskrit and Andrew in English.


Indra-Ahalya Painting!

Another beautiful verse gives very interesting details about a painting of Indra in the disguise of a cat when he came to molest Gautama Rishi’s wife Ahalya. Paripatal verse 19 describes this story with three Sanskrit names Indra, Gautama and Ahalya. This painting in Tirupparankundram near Madurai attracted a big crowd and the poet overheard the conversation and put it in his poem! Indra’s stories were so popular in Tamil Nadu 2000 years ago. The Indra festival is described in minute details in the great epic Silappadikaram.

Paripatal verses and Tirumurukatrup patai verse gives a variety of mythological stories by one or two lines.

Tituvalluvar uses the story Indra and Ahalya to illustrate that seers are greater than Indra when it comes to the control of senses (Kural 25)

In 2000 year old Sangam Tamil literature we come across Sanskrit word Amruta (ambrosia) in many places which is available in Indra loka (heaven of Indra). The Sanskrit word Amrita is used in more than thirty verses in Sangam literature.

Rainbow is known as Indra Dhanush (Indra’s bow) in Tamil and Sanskrit literature.

Vashista’s wife Arundhati, Amrita, Indra and Four Vedas were used by Tamil poets in hundreds of places. Tamils were thorough with the Hindu Mythology. Tripura Dhanam of Shiva, destruction of buffalo demon by the goddess, Shiva’s poison episode etc were household things in ancient Tamil Nadu. In short there is no Tamil book without a Sanskrit word—from Tolkappiam to Bharathiar of our time. There is no Tamil work without a reference to Hindu god or mythology. I can quote from every book.

(Those who want to reproduce the article must give the name of the blog or the author London Swaminathan. Pictures are not mine)

Read my earlier posts:
Indra Festival in the Vedas and Tamil Epics
Veera Matha in the Vedas and Tamil Literature
Vahanas in Kalidasa and Tamil Literature


Gold Member
Gold Member
Dear Sir,

I think one needs to be specific cos Elephants are also found in Africa but a different types.
They are bigger with bigger ears and the gestational period for pregnancy of an Indian elephant is 18 months but for an African elephant is 24 months.

So only the Indian Elephant is "Indian"( even though I would not want to give an elephant a race and religion!LOL)

The Indra concept is also seen in Greek history.

Zeus is the King of Gods and the God of the Sky and Thunder and he has a thunderbolt as a weapon.

Zeus is also very well known for his affairs with others and mortals which is also similar to Indra escapades..so if you ask me I would say yet again the concept of Gods including Indra is still very universal and not region specific.
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london swaminathan

New member
Hi Renuka

You are right in comparing Zeus and Indra.
Zeus came from the Vedic God Dhyaus (Sky God).
It has been debated for hundreds of years by "scholars".

Regarding elephant
The surprising thing is not even the ancient Egyptians know the elephants.
Ancient Egyptians has no picture of elephant in their millions of monuments!!!!
You can see it only ii later stage pictures.

Hannibal took the elephants to Europe.
Alexander was wonder struck when he saw the gigantic Banyan trees and elephants.

Indians exported elephants tusks and peacocks to Rome and other parts of the world.
The Sanskrit word IBHA for elephant gave birth to el-ephas (Gk).
Half arabic and half greek. Lot of Indian things went through Arabs (Indian Numerals)-- so lot of confusion.
I have explained it in detail in my post SANSKRIT IN THE BIBLE.

Egyptian word for elephant Obu came from Sanskrit IBHA.
Queen of Sheba gave Solomon Shen Habbin ( tusk of elephant) to build Ivory Throne.
The Hebrew word Habbin for elephant came from IBHA for elephant in Sanskrit.
Bible has several Sanskrit words.Algu= Valgu, Tuki=Siki for peacock in Sanskrit.

Kanchi Paramacharya has shown Hebrew Torah passages are similar to Rig Veda.
Please read that interesting anecdote in Sage of Kanchi website.


Well-known member
Indra is the name of a demon (daēwa) in the Avesta. Therefore, it is necessary to arrive at the scientific periods of the avesta and our vedas/tamil literature and then decide whether the avestan demon became vedic super-god or vice versa. All that I have read so far, goes in support of the former, viz., Indra was a demon for the Iranians believing in zoroastrianism, first and this indra became the Rigveda's most exalted deity, on the probable dictum that enemy's enemy is our friend.

Next step is to date the Rigveda and Tolkappiam etc. Since Shri LS himself states that Tolkappiam belongs to the 1st. century B.C., and the Rigveda is at least one millennium older, it is wrong to say that Indra was the "most popular"Tamil God, overlooking the facts that Murugan is the Tamil God (who later found a niche as "skanda" — in sanskrit this has reference to Siva's ejaculation and semen falling to Ganga, etc. — in the sanskritised Tamil religion). Agni might have been described with skandan, meaning - leaping, jumping, bursting out - but I would like to know in which veda and sukta/mantra this comes; anyway, skanda is not a synonym for Agni.

Shri London, please do not spread half-baked and incorrect news/information; it is very bad for a brahmin, that too, for one having raised himself up to London!!;)
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